The Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to the Oxenwood Outdoor Activity Centre in Wiltshire on Wednesday to meet young carers and to re-open the Centre, which had been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Camilla visited her in her capacity as Patron of Community First, a charity that operates across Wiltshire and Swindon to “envisage, create and manage projects to support people and places including community transport schemes, community-led housing, community organising and volunteering services,” according to its website.
During her visit, the Duchess spoke with four young carers about their lives in lockdown and learned about the activities offered at the Centre before cutting a ribbon to mark it officially re-opened.
Camilla told the young people that she met with: “I would just like to say a huge thank you to young carers because you all do the most brilliant job.”
“I am so thrilled that you are able to come here and use this centre for your activities,” she continued.
“I just want to say how grateful everybody is for all you do as I know how hard it’s been, especially over lockdown. To be able to come here and enjoy yourselves is so important. As Patron of Community First, I would just like to say thank you very much for all you do, and I don’t think you ever get thanked enough.”Embed from Getty Images
Clarence House noted that there are around 874 young carers in Wiltshire between the ages of five and 18 and that during the lockdown, Community First “identified the most vulnerable young carers within the overall cohort (292 young carers) to continue support through welfare checks, remote webinars and advocacy.”
Clarence House also said that the young carers “have concerns and worries regarding the safety of their family members who may well be a clinically vulnerable or shielding, and at the start of lockdown issues around access to food and medicine was a key concern,” and that there is a concern about returning to school, which is a source of anxiety for them.
After meeting these young carers, the Duchess of Cornwall watched an archery demonstration at the ‘Round House’ and spoke with young carers at the lesson as well as instructors to hear how they enjoy their time away from home, as they all spend their time caring for others.
“The lockdown has presented some challenges to the young people we support. Young carers have had concerns and worries regarding the safety of their family members who are vulnerable and have been shielding. There are also concerns about returning to school. The re-opening of Oxenwood this month for small groups of young people (current guidance is 15) to deliver activities is such a positive time. The centre is tailoring activities under the National Youth Association and Government guidelines,” said Lynn Gibson, Community First’s Chief Executive, in a statement on the charity’s website.Embed from Getty Images
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Community First’s Chair of Trustees, Martin Hammer, said: “It is a very real pleasure to welcome Her Royal Highness here today and we are all delighted that our Patron, The Duchess, has also extended her patronage to the charity…As the lockdown comes to an end, it is fitting that we invite Her Royal Highness to cut this ribbon to symbolise the re-opening of the Centre.”
Camilla then cut the ribbon to officially re-open the Centre. The Centre re-opened on 8 July with small gatherings and transportation to and from the venue is provided to young carers.